Go for fibre, but not any fibre
While many large EU Telco providers are still claiming important investments on incremental upgrades such as VDSL2 deployed from street cabinets (FTTN), important questions remain about whether favouring this technology over the more expensive fibre to the home (FTTH) is worth the loss that could be incurred in operational efficiency and in global competitiveness.
The promised speeds (80mbps) expected to be allowed (yet to be proven) by FTTN are lower than the starting speeds (1gbps) guaranteed by FTTH being deployed by leading-edge alternative operators. Some of the important applications that are likely to drive demand for super-fast broadband such as cloud computing also require the symmetric capabilities of fibre networks. And there is more: FTTH can be deployed in an “open” manner, by offering full unbundling from the customer premises to a point aggregating thousands or tens of thousands of lines, and allow effective wholesale access to alternative providers. This enables alternative provides to effectively deploy innovative technologies of their choice, and compete with best offers to win the end-users’ trust.
Conversely, if European incumbents do not invest in FTTH, but give copper a “second life” through FTTN/vDSL, there is little justification for compelling consumers to pay for investments that are not taking place. They should instead benefit from the lower costs associated with prolonging the legacy network even further.
This post represents the view of alternative telecoms operators, and cannot be held to reflect the views of ECTA members with incumbent interests.